"Started from the Bottom" was originally planned to be released on February 10, 2013, coinciding with the Grammy Awards. However, it was instead premiered on February 1 through Drake's "October's Very Own" blog, as he preferred to release it without prior interviews. The song was officially released on iTunes on February 6, 2013. At the 55th Grammy Awards, Drake teased that an official remix would be released.
Lyrically, "Started from the Bottom" addresses Drake's early life and career beginnings. He commented of its concept, "I feel sometimes that people don't have enough information about my beginnings and therefore they make up a life story for me that isn't consistent with actual events. I did not buy my way into this spot and it was the furthest thing from easy to achieve. I am proud of every part of my past and I'm excited for this song to find a place in your life as well." The song makes use of instrumentation from drums and a piano; MTV describes it as "departure" from his earlier works.
On January 4, 2013, Drake was seen filming the music video for the song which was being directed by Director X. The music video was released on February 10, 2013. The video features an all-white dressed Drake standing in the back of a white Bentley convertible, during a blizzard. In other scenes, he works retail in a Shoppers Drug Martdrugstore, flies a plane into his native Toronto and dances around in a club. Drake's mother, Sandi, and producers Boi-1da and Noah "40" Shebib also have cameos in the video. At the end it displays Drake and his friends partying at a villa in the Dominican Republic.
At the 55th Grammy Awards, Drake suggested that an official remix could be released. He begun work on it with Rick Ross and DJ Khaled but the recording session resulted in the first single off Khaled's next album, "No New Friends".
Lewis Corner of Digital Spy gave the song a positive review stating:
Backdropped by a haunting piano loop and tinned snare, the production falls in line with what we've come to expect from a brooding Drake track. "Started from the bottom now we're here," he reflects. "Started from the bottom now my whole team fucking here." The ascent to stardom has clearly been the smoothest of paths, but we hope there's a little more depth to the remainder of his new material to keep him up there with the best. .
On December 2, 2013, Complex named "Started From the Bottom" the second best song released in 2013. David Drake of Complex said, "Musically, "Started From the Bottom" is Drake at his most irrepressibly memorable. Stripped down to a simple piano line and a crisp, unforgettable drum pattern, the song's simplicity gave it a singular fingerprint. It epitomizes the new, clean, minimal direction Drake took throughout Nothing Was The Same, while sounding like no other song on it. It is wistful, atmospheric, as catchy as a nursery rhyme. Lyrically, the song is packed with hooks, each line a mantra of burgeoning confidence, hard-earned."Rolling Stone then ranked the song at number nine on their list of the 100 Best Songs of 2013.XXL named it one of the top five hip hop songs of 2013.
The track entered the UK Singles Chart at number 71 on February 10, 2013. The following week it rose forty-six positions to number 25 - becoming only Drake's third top 40 entry as a solo artist in the UK. The song has reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and is Drake's eleventh top 10 hit on the chart. The song sold over 2 million digital copies in the US by January 2014.